Citizens’ Assembly on Agriculture Wrong Model: Agriculture Group

According to an agricultural group, the proposal to set up a citizens’ assembly on agriculture and food production is a “bad idea” and a “wrong model”.

Rich Labor Party Cork East TD Sean Sherlock said a civil assembly should be set up on the future of agriculture in Ireland, following a lengthy debate within the government about which regional emissions limits should be set for key sectors of the economy .

This resulted in a compromise rate of 25% reduction in emissions for agriculture, 75% reduction rates for the power sector, and 50% reduction for transport.

In a statement this week Mr Sherlock said after weeks of talks between ministers, “we need to have a national dialogue on what the future of agriculture will look like”.

“To take the next steps together, free from the political short-term, Labor is calling on the government to convene a citizens’ assembly on the future of agriculture and food production in Ireland.”

Farming and rural groups have questioned such a proposal, arguing that specialization is needed to discuss agricultural issues, that a civic body may not be the best forum to make progress, and that it may not be the best forum to make progress in the past. Can double up at work.

Eddie Punch, general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA), told the PA news agency that the idea was a “bad thought”.

What I am saying is that you cannot make grand plans for agriculture if you do not have any funds to fulfill it.Eddie Punch of ICSA

“After a couple of weeks where everyone has an opinion about farming, farmers are, I would say, a bit crude after the past few weeks lecturing about how they are destroying the climate,” Mr. Punch he said .

“Farmers are interested in farming more sustainably all the time. But they are also interested in the production of food, they also want to produce energy if they are given a chance by the government, and they certainly have to put bread on the table for their families as well.

“I think the concern with a civic gathering is what you end up with … (there are) a lot of people who don’t have a stake in agriculture, who don’t understand what farming is.”

He said that this does not mean that those who are not farmers should not have any vision about farming, but that there is a problem in asking those who are not farmers how to improve the industry.

“Most of what they are cultivating today is the result of years and years and generations of trial and error to see what works best.

“And that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement — but it also means you can’t suddenly turn all these animal farms into carrot-growing farms.

“What I’m saying is that this is an incredibly complex set of decisions to be made by 130,000 farmers.

“Farmers are open to change all the time, but the notion that 100 people gathered in a Dublin hotel for eight weeks, randomly selected, most of whom have never grown anything or farmed in their lives. Don’t know anything about, the notion that they can chart a better course than those who have given a lifetime’s experience to farming, I think it’s a wrong idea, to be honest .

He said: “Farmers may be lucky to have 20% of the people present in the civic gathering.

“What I’m saying is that you can’t come up with grand plans for agriculture if you don’t have any funds to accomplish this.

“There’s a lot of complexity that has huge financial implications and, frankly, I don’t think a citizens’ assembly has the ability to take into account all of those things.

“And even if it does, unless the government says ‘we’re going to put 20 billion (euro) on the table, and we’ll allocate it based on what you bring’, maybe . .. football fantasy league fields at that level.”

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Cows graze in Athy, Co Kildare (Niall Carson/PA)

Macra na Feirme, a voluntary organization representing 11,000 youth from rural Ireland aged 17-35, said a government group had already been convened earlier this year to advise on the issue.

“In March 2022 the Agriculture Minister set up the National Fodder and Food Security Committee (NFFSC), to prepare an industry response, contingency plan and advice by the government to assist farmers in managing their agricultural enterprises during the high period. task has been assigned. Input price inflation and potential supply pressures.

“This committee was originally envisaged as a response to the fodder crisis, resulting from the intervention of Macra na Firme, adding food security to the Terms of Reference.

“NFFSC is a body that is led by Teagask with membership from all major representative organizations.

“Since this body, consisting of experts from industry, has already been convened and is a conduit back to the government through the Minister of Agriculture, Macra na Firme is of the opinion that it is the body that advises on all matters relating to agriculture and food. Must give. Production.”

Bobby Miller, chairman of the Irish Grain Growers Group, said the group would be “in favor of any positive dialogue” regarding tillage farming and that “to move towards a solution, we need a good conversation, no doubt about it.” “.

As long as it’s balanced and they know what they’re talking about – farming is a very complicated business in today’s worldBobby Miller, Irish Grain Growers Group

“(A civic gathering on agriculture) is fine as long as it’s balanced and they know what they’re talking about – farming is a very complex business in today’s world”

“Any conversation that helps us accomplish our goals is a good day’s job.

“As tillage farmers, we feel that we have been left out of the equation too much. From our perspective on climate change, we have a very low carbon footprint. Fields that are only tilled are very close to being carbon-neutral.”

Mr Miller said there are opportunities for the grain industry to “bloom” as well as tackle climate issues, as far as his group is concerned.

Ireland has held citizens’ meetings on the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, an aging population, a fixed-term parliament, referendums, climate change and gender equality.

Hundreds of members, including an independent president and 99 randomly selected members of the public, convene for several weeks to examine legal and policy issues and bring forward proposals for the government to consider.

Two citizens’ meetings are currently being held: one on the loss of biodiversity and one on whether a directly-elected mayoral system is best suited for Dublin.

A civic body should see how we find solutions to these challengesIrish Labor Party TD Sean Sherlock

Others are planned for the future of drug use and education.

Mr Sherlock said in his statement that he had “great sympathy” for the farmers who were told to “leverage up, gear up and move to dairy”.

“We are already seeing evidence of cooperatives providing access to psychological and counseling services due to pressure from farmers.”

Giving an argument for a civic gathering hearing from representatives of non-governmental organizations, environmental groups, business, agriculture and civil society, he said: “Such gatherings can be used for everything from our food strategy to innovative and green methods of farming. Might consider something. ,

“Forestry is still a bad relationship and we are far from our afforestation target.

“The way we work needs to change and it is the responsibility of the government to provide our farming communities with a proper transition to reduce emissions and protect livelihoods.

“It involves paying more farmers to segregate the carbon.

“A free market approach will not provide sustainable agriculture and good farm income.

“The Citizens’ Assembly should look at how we find solutions to these challenges.”